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Wellcome Trust

Internal News - 20 June 2006

Wellcome Trust outlines its plans for Open Access publishing

From October the Wellcome Trust will require all its grant-holders to ensure that published original peer-reviewed research is available on an open-access platform. Vivies Goldsmith, the Trust’s communications manager, outlines how this move will affect the UK biomedical research community.

The Wellcome Trust supports unrestricted access to the published output of research as a fundamental part of its charitable mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible.

From 1 October 2006 grant holders and other researchers who have worked on a Wellcome-funded project will be obliged to post their published papers on PubMed Central (PMC) or the UK version, UK PubMed Central (UK PMC) when it is up and running.

A nine-strong group, including the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK, is in the final stages of setting it up. This will enable scientists’ work to be made freely available to the public, via the web no later than six months after publication.

Many journals make their content available in PMC as soon as it is published, while others delay release of content. This free-to-access, life sciences archive, was originally developed by the National Institutes of Health in the US.

The UK version will provide another entry point to the bank of bio-medical research and an opportunity to develop services to meet the needs of the UK biomedical research community.

Authors will still be able to choose the journal to which they submit their research papers. But they will have to ensure that a copy of the final paper is deposited in PMC (or UKPMC once established) and made freely available within six months of publication. This means that authors will have to manage the copyright in their research papers carefully.

The Wellcome Trust is the UK’s biggest non-governmental funder of biomedical research, spending over £400 million a year. The work it funds results in around 3,500 published papers every year.

The Trust provides additional funding to cover the costs relating to article-processing charges levied by some publishers. These open access publishing costs amount to about one per cent of the Trust’s research grant budget.

Dr Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Everyone, everywhere will be able to read the results of the research that we fund. Digital archives greatly improve the power and efficiency of research. We feel it’s important to take some responsibility for ensuring that the research we fund has the maximum impact – I hope other research bodies will follow our lead.”

For more information, visit the Wellcome Trust’s open access web pages (see related links).